Hundreds of previously unknown contaminants were found in a new study that focused on polar bear blood samples, published in a German chemical journal recently. The new contaminating substances were found thanks to scientists from Canada and the United States, who took a different approach to analyze polar bear blood samples.
According to the study’s author, toxicologist Jonathan Martin, there are many unexplained chemicals in human blood, as well as in wildlife and environmental samples. “This is a polar bear story, but it’s probably also a human story,” said Martin, of Stockholm University in Sweden.
To determine what exposure to these chemicals means for human health and the environment, researchers had to find out more about those substances. The study named “Hundreds of Unrecognized Halogenated Pollutants Discovered in Polar Bear Serum,” published in a German scientific journal, identified more than 200 new chemical compounds, 100 of which are entirely new, never before reported by science.
Hundreds Of Unknown Chemicals Contaminated Polar Bears In The Arctic Region
Toxins tend to accumulate in the Arctic due to cold weather, and polar bears, at the top of that ecosystem’s food chain, are likely to have high concentrations of these toxins, which is why the study focused on them.
“We try not to purify. We leave our eyes open to see unexpected things,” Martin said. The researcher had been looking for fluorinated contaminants, which are chemicals commonly used in repellents or to make Teflon but are also found in chlorinated toxins and PCBs. “Right now we wouldn’t tell anyone to change anything because of these discoveries,” Martin added.
PCBs are known to accumulate in the Arctic for some time, and their adverse effects on children have been well-documented. As a result, PCBs are banned, although they are still found in the environment. Unlike PCBs, fluorinated chemicals are not prohibited.
“We are a little concerned about the increased concentrations of fluorinated chemicals, which was one of the findings of our study that these chemicals are still increasing in concentrations,” Jon Martin said. “The polar bears were no longer contaminated when we discovered this. They have been contaminated like this since the 1980s. We just didn’t know it,” Martin added.
Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.